Michigan could be first in the nation for STEM diplomas

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

Proos’ STEM certification, ‘hot jobs’ bills sent to governor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature on Tuesday finalized Sen. John Proos’ legislation to ensure students are provided with important career information and get a leg up on earning a job in a high-skilled career or continuing their education.

“These measures are about helping students succeed by ensuring they get all the information they need on in-demand jobs in their area and highlighting skills training that students may have taken to prepare for these growing careers,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph.

Senate Bill 343 would require school districts and public school academies to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand occupations for the economic forecast region in which the school or public school academy is located. The bill would allow the in-demand careers information to be emailed to students.

Residents can see the current “Hot Jobs” outlook for Southwest Michigan by clicking here. This information is compiled on an annual basis by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Outlooks for all of Michigan’s 10 prosperity regions are available at www.milmi.org/research/regional-hot-jobs-for-2024.

“Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, yet many of these well-paying positions remain unfilled,” Proos said. “We owe it to every high school student to provide them with comprehensive career information — including materials on fields where jobs currently exist and are expected to be created — so they can make the best decision for their future.”

SB 344 would allow Michigan students to receive a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) certification on their diploma or transcript as an incentive for taking additional STEM courses.

“This certification would be a chance to reward students who take additional STEM classes and to highlight their accomplishments,” Proos said. “I look forward to seeing the governor sign this bill to give our students a competitive advantage in landing a great job by making Michigan the first state to allow this STEM certification opportunity.”

To earn the certification, students would need to complete at least six credits in mathematics, at least six credits in science, at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving technology, and at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving engineering.

The bills now head to the governor to be signed.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Revenue sharing wins big in 2019!

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Thursday highlighted that the more than $22.5 million increase in local revenue sharing in the fiscal year 2019 state budget will mean that communities in the 21st Senate District will receive nearly $10 million more than they did 10 years ago.

“Our local governments do tremendous work every day providing critical services to area residents and keeping our communities safe,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The recently finalized 2019 state budget includes over $22.5 million more in revenue sharing to our local governments to help support local services like police protection and firefighting.

“This builds on our continued efforts to boost support for our local units of government. Over the past 10 budget years, revenue sharing in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties has increased by nearly 44 percent.”

According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, from fiscal year 2010 to the new FY 2019 budget, revenue sharing has increased by 48.6 percent in Berrien County, 58.6 percent in Cass County and 22.9 percent in St. Joseph County.

This includes the combined revenue sharing for each county government and the eligible city, village and township governments in each county.

“As Southwest Michigan residents, my family and I appreciate everything our local government workers do for our community,” Proos said. “From protecting public safety and public health to maintaining local roads and parks, our local governments make a huge impact in our daily lives and deserve continued increased support.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Proos: Finalized 2019 budget builds on success

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Tuesday supported a finalized fiscal year 2019 state budget that increases investments in key priorities, including educating Michigan students and improving the roads.

“This budget builds on our success to energize our economy and help create jobs while keeping our communities and ensuring every Michigan student gets an education that prepares them for success,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “An education is critical to success, and I am proud to support another increased investment in our kids. This balanced budget once again increases funding for our schools to record levels. Every school in Michigan will receive an increase in funding — with most schools seeing the largest per-pupil increase in 17 years.”

The education budget invests nearly $14.8 billion in K-12 education, which includes a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil and a $1.3 billion contribution into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to control costs, reduce debt and meet the needs of current retired teachers.

“The state of our roads remains a top priority in Southwest Michigan, and this budget dedicates an extra $330 million into fixing the roads,” Proos said. “This will bring our total new investment in our roads to $2.4 billion since 2017.”

Proos said that the budget also builds on the success of the recent criminal justice reforms.

“We continue to work to solve the difficult challenge of preparing our prison population for a productive return to society and not a return to crime,” Proos said. “The result of our reforms has been reduced recidivism and prison costs as well as safer communities and better outcomes.

“With this budget, we will continue to focus on a more vibrant Michigan, provide vital services and live within our means.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Sen. Proos supports auto insurance reform

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich.Sen. John Proos on Thursday voted for Senate reforms to the Michigan auto no-fault insurance law.

“Drivers in Michigan are currently paying the nation’s highest car insurance rates — more than twice the premiums paid by Indiana drivers,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As a border senator, I know all too well the terrible impact our sky-high insurance costs have on the choices that Southwest Michigan families and job providers have to face.”

In a July 2017 report by insure.com, Michigan was named the most expensive state for car insurance for the fourth consecutive year. Michigan’s average premium is $2,394, which is over 80 percent more than the national average of $1,318. The average premium paid by Indiana drivers is $1,021.

“One of the most common concerns I hear from Southwest Michigan residents is the high cost of auto insurance in our state,” Proos said. “Michigan needs serious reform to reduce car insurance rates that are unaffordable for many drivers and are threatening our economic growth.

“That is why I supported Senate legislation to start the process of making long-overdue reforms to the auto insurance system in Michigan.”

Senate Bill 1014 would make reforms to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. It would create a new authority within the attorney general’s office to help investigate and reduce auto insurance fraud and cap benefits for people who have never paid into the no-fault system.

SB 787 would allow Michigan residents age 65 or older the option to choose a capped auto-insurance policy. Seniors who opt for the limited coverage would see their catastrophic claims assessment drastically reduced. Medicare would cover remaining medical expenses after the $50,000 limit is reached.

“My goal is to achieve a real solution that recognizes the tremendous burdens Michigan ratepayers are facing while also continuing to provide drivers with the best medical benefits in the country,” Proos said.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/audio.

Proos: Free fishing, off-roading this weekend!

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos is reminding Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors that they can enjoy a free fishing weekend this Saturday and Sunday, June 9-10.

“Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend provides an outstanding opportunity for families to introduce the joy of fishing to children or to just get away from the stress of life and relax in the Michigan outdoors,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I encourage Southwest Michigan anglers — and those who have never gone fishing — to take advantage of this annual celebration of one of Michigan’s premier outdoor activities this weekend.”

Anglers can fish without a license on these two days. All fishing license fees will be waived during the weekend, although all fishing regulations still apply.

“This tradition is an excellent time for area families and out-of-state visitors to enjoy some of the world’s best fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters — free of charge,” Proos said. “The free fishing weekend is a great way to promote our state’s vast aquatic resources and to give families a great chance to pass along the joy of fishing to the next generation.”

During the weekend, the state will also waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas.

Saturday and Sunday also mark one of the summer’s free ORV weekends, a time off-road enthusiasts can ride designated routes and trails without an ORV license or trail permit.

“From fishing on our 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes to riding on 3,700 miles of route trails to just enjoying time with family in one of our state parks, this weekend offers great opportunities for residents to have fun in Michigan’s great outdoors,” Proos said.

For more information on the Summer Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

For information on the free ORV weekend, riders can visit www.michigan.gov/orvinfo.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Proos: 2019 Corrections, Judiciary budgets focus on better outcomes

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos, chairman of the Senate subcommittees for the Judiciary and Department of Corrections budgets, on Wednesday announced that agreements on the two budgets focus on protecting public safety and improving efficiency.

“We were able to save taxpayer dollars and still continue to invest in effective, evidence-based programs that are already working to achieve better outcomes for our communities and those in the criminal justice system,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The budget agreements protect the public, reinvest in important job-training opportunities and continue support for the state’s groundbreaking criminal justice reforms.

“The fact that Michigan’s prison population fell below 40,000 last year for the first time since 1993 — and continues to fall — is a great illustration of the impact our efforts to reduce recidivism are having.”

House Bill 5562 is the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) budget for fiscal year 2019. The agreement is $18 million less than the governor’s budget recommendation.

The agreement includes $2 million for a new enhanced food technology program with assistance from the Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) to help train prisoners for jobs in the food service industry.

“The on-site training incorporated in the budget is a game changer,” said Justin Winslow, MRA president and CEO. “We hear daily from our members that recruiting and retaining enough employees is their number one concern. This industry has always been ready to provide someone willing to work with a second chance. Given our current environment, that sentiment has never been more relevant and needed.”

Proos said, “This innovative program gives us an opportunity to provide valuable on-the-job skills to low-risk prisoners to help them meet workforce needs when they re-enter society.”

Senate Bill 859 is the Judiciary FY 2019 budget and includes a 1.3 percent increase from the current year’s budget. The agreement would fund needed technology upgrades, increase funding for problem-solving courts and maintain funding for the Swift and Sure Sanctioning Program.

“Under the agreement, we will continue to provide our courts with the resources they need to keep our communities safe and also invest in lower-cost alternatives like community dispute resolution centers,” Proos said. “Boosting support for specialty courts for mental health and addiction is good for the entire state. These courts help reduce crime and benefit both society and offenders by addressing underlying issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Proos supports bills to improve road safety for bicyclists

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos recently voted for Senate legislation to have Michigan join nearly 40 other states with a safe passing law for drivers passing bicyclists on the road.

“With over 1,300 miles of biking trails to explore and more rail trails than any other state, Michigan is one of the most scenic states for bicycling,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As we encourage people to get out and take a bike ride, it is critical that we increase safety for everyone on our roads, especially bicyclists.”

Senate Bills 123124 and 170 would require drivers to allow a safe distance of at least three feet when passing a cyclist on either the left or right side, and would require the state’s initial teen driver education course to include at least one hour of classroom instruction on laws pertaining to bikes, motorcycles and vulnerable roadways users.

Drivers would be permitted to pass a bicycle in a no passing zone if it is safe to do so.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have safe passing laws that mention bicycles. Of those, 29 states and the District of Columbia require a passing distance of at least three feet.

“Senator Margaret O’Brien spearheaded this bipartisan legislation following a 2016 crash in Kalamazoo, in which a pickup truck hit a group of bicyclists, killing five of them,” Proos said. “This is about helping prevent further tragedies by making clear to drivers their responsibilities when approaching bicyclists on the road.

“As we work to provide clarity in the law, I encourage Southwest Michigan bicyclists to follow safety rules and area drivers to keep an eye out for bicyclists and to pass with care.”

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos will be available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

House panel approves Proos’ STEM certification bill

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan students would get a leg up on earning a job in a high-skilled career or continuing their education under legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos and recently approved by the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee.

“Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, yet many of these well-paying positions remain unfilled,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I am proud that we are giving students a chance to receive hands-on training, and this initiative is the next step in ensuring that our students are prepared for success and to meet our growing skilled-workforce needs.”

Senate Bill 344 would allow Michigan students to receive a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) certification on their diploma or transcript as an incentive for taking additional STEM courses.

“This certification would be a change to reward students who take additional STEM classes and to highlight their accomplishments,” Proos said. “I encourage the House to help give our students a competitive advantage in landing a great career by making Michigan the first state to allow this STEM certification opportunity.”

To earn the STEM certification, students would need to complete at least six credits in mathematics, at least six credits in science, at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving technology, and at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving engineering.

SB 344 was unanimously approved by the Senate last year. The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos will be available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Proos welcomes Col. Case to Senate Memorial Day Service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, welcomed Col. Mac Case (right) to the state Capitol on Thursday as his guest for the Michigan Senate’s 24th Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers. Proos also welcomed U.S. Army Reserves Col. Heidi Fouty (center) from Battle Creek for the ceremony.

Case is graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve with 29 years of service, both active and reserve. He is veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, a senior program manager at Whirlpool and a founding member of the Whirlpool Veterans Association (WVA). The WVA is active in helping Whirlpool recruit and retain veterans into the workforce.

Whirlpool’s efforts in supporting veterans has been recognized with Gold Level Veteran-Friendly Employer status from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and Military Friendly Employer and Military Friendly Spouse Employer designations by Victory Media.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.

Proos supports banning marijuana-infused beer in Michigan

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Thursday voted for legislation to pre-emptively prohibit marijuana-infused beer, wine and spirits in Michigan.

Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia permit the recreational use of marijuana. Michigan is one of 29 states where the medical use of marijuana is permitted, and a new ballot proposal seeks to have voters legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan.

“Many states that now allow the recreational use of marijuana, such as Colorado and California, have seen the introduction of marijuana-infused alcohol products in recent years,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph.

Senate Bill 969 would ban the use, possession or sale of marijuana-infused beer, wine, mixed wine drink, spirit drink, or spirits in Michigan.

“At a time when drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people every year, allowing alcohol with marijuana in it would be dangerous and irresponsible,” Proos said. “This is especially true when you consider the fact that marijuana-infused foods can take an hour to kick in — making it even harder for consumers or their friends to know when they are impaired.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,497 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016, an average of one death every 50 minutes.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination and reaction time. Marijuana is also the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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